"The Cold War is over, America having triumphed over the hypothetical Russian threat. Our military technology won out over what the Communists tried to call an "air force". As a downside to that, lots of cheap USSR military surplus became available to neighboring regions, such as the newly formed and conflicted Eastern Bloc territories and further into the Middle East, a mecca for terrorism. In short, the region has not yet been fully stabilized. Enter you, The Destabilizer, in your pimpin' F-15 ..."
The Cold War is over, America having triumphed over the hypothetical Russian threat. Our military technology won out over what the Communists tried to call an "air force". As a downside to that, lots of cheap USSR military surplus became available to neighboring regions, such as the newly formed and conflicted Eastern Bloc territories and further into the Middle East, a mecca for terrorism. In short, the region has not yet been fully stabilized. Enter you, The Destabilizer, in your pimpin' F-15 Strike Eagle, armed with the cutting edge in guided weaponry and heavy ordnance.
This is also the cutting edge for 1993, the premier military flight sim for Sega's 16-bit wonder console. MicroProse's F-15 Strike Eagle II is the most accurate, According-To-Jane's simulation you can find packed into a cartridge. However, this is not saying a whole hell of a lot. Controlling a $50 million piece of aeronautical hardware is a task best suited to mouse and keyboard, but the Genesis controller and D-pad are responsive enough to make handling some tougher gauntlets not totally unbearable. If you have a joystick, it's vastly superior and slightly Afterburner-esque. As expected, the graphics are only barely adequate to understand what is going on. Most of the time, your enemy or target is only a symbol on your display surrounding a pixel-sized speck. Colors are garish and very basic, the sound of your engine hovers at the same frequency. There might only be about four sound effects in the entire game.
Yet undertaking a mission flawlessly from takeoff to landing is quite satisfying. Your arsenal's size is ridiculous, only somewhat exaggerated to make a larger point about American military dominance. 20 AMRAAM air-to-air heat-seeking missiles, 20 laser-guided Maverick air-to-ground missiles, a thousand rounds in your Vulcan cannon. More than enough to wipe out both ground targets assigned to you, and any number of cheap MiG fighters scrambled to shoot you down. Should one of them manage to get close enough to launch a missile your way, you have nearly infinite supplies of chaff and flares to confuse radar-guided and heat-seeking projectiles.
So getting killed isn't too much of a threat. The biggest one, really, is running out of fuel before you return to base. The levels are surprisingly huge even if they aren't rendered in the most lifelike fashion. The graceful curve of a coastline is jagged and angular; towering mountains are cone-shaped, perfectly triangular. Trapezoidal steppes are the most distinctive part of the overwhelmingly white Siberian terrain. Your targets start off as specks but some truly epic level scaling makes it so you can literally buzz six inches over them if you so desire. The various airfields or SAM batteries you must destroy go up in a flash and leave a nice charred hexagon in the dirt afterwards. The hexagon motif continues with the lock-on system for your magical unmissable missiles -- just put the target into your overlarge aiming circle, wait for the yellow triangle to change into a deadly red hexagon, fire and forget!
Mission accomplished! Now bring your F-15 back on home and enjoy a well-earned victory sandwich!
If you have it on "easy" mode the game will land your craft for you; even if you hit the tarmac at an 85-degree angle with afterburners on, you'll still land fine and cruise into the hangar. However if you feel you're a "Professional" at this sort of thing, prepare for a lot of plane wrecking. You need to slow down with the airflaps, retract your landing gear, and don't leave the tarmac. If you should accidentally veer off the asphalt while pulling into a complete stop, it's back to square one! It also counts as a "ditch" along with bailing out or getting shot down. Three ditches and you're banished to a boring desk job! I guess discharging you for destroying $150 million worth of military equipment isn't enough; you must be consigned to a fate worse than death, trapped in the gears of beauracracy. Woe unto you!
This game is a pretty faithful (albeit extremely simplified) flight sim that would have been a thousand times better and more playable if it were not on a console. By virtue of it being on a Genesis, it gets one point better than total abject failure. Congrats be to Microprose.
Community review by johnny_cairo (June 20, 2007)
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